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Jordan Henderson hits brutal new low as Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino loses captaincy



Roberto Firmino

Jordan Henderson played in front of a season-low crowd of just 610 people as Al-Ettifaq drew 0-0 away at Al-Fayha on Saturday.

The former Liverpool captain left the Reds in controversial circumstances in the summer and reunited with Steven Gerrard in Saudi Arabia after growing disillusioned with his potentially diminishing starting opportunities at Anfield following a £150 million midfield overhaul.

Al-Ettifaq started the season well, winning five of their first seven Saudi Pro League matches. But they have since dropped off, winning just one of their last seven matches in all competitions with such a run seeing them drop to seventh in the table.

Yet it is the low attendance that Al-Ettifaq are playing in front of in the Gulf State that has really set tongues wagging back on home soil, with their trip to Al-Fayha only witnessed by 610 people.

That is the lowest crowd of the season so far, beating the 696 they lost in front of when traveling to Al-Riyadh last month.

To put such a figure into context, it is fewer than the lowest average attendances in the Vanarama National Leagues North and South this season. Farsley Celtic have played in front of an average crowd of 759 people, while Truro City’s average crowd, home and away, stands at 682.

It is not just Henderson enjoying a far from ideal time in the Gulf State after leaving Liverpool, though. Roberto Firmino was benched by Al-Ahli for the second consecutive game as his goalscoring drought in the Middle East continues.

Initially installed as captain, the Brazilian scored a hat-trick on his debut for the club. However, he hasn’t scored since, with his drought now extended to 13 matches after Al-Ahli’s 2-2 draw with Damac on Saturday.

Such form has prompted fans to turn on the forward, and reports suggest the Saudi club could look to move him on in January to make room for a new overseas signing, with Pro League sides only allowed to register eight foreigners in their squads.

And speculation has only been heightened by Firmino finding himself benched against both Damac and Al-Ahli’s previous outing, as they won 3-0 over Al-Riyadh, with Franck Kessie taking the captaincy in his place.

Striker Firas Al-Buraikan, who joined the club in September, started upfront for the first time, at the expense of Firmino, and registered both a goal and an assist against Al-Riyadh. He’d also set up a goal against Damac.


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